Cover image: Unidentified Salish-Pend d’Oreille people fishing at Flathead Lake, c. 1915.
Courtesy Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
aay u sqélix͏ʷ – a history of bull trout and the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people by Thompson Smith
written in conjunction with Explore the River:
Bull Trout, Tribal People, and the Jocko River
an educational DVD project produced by the
Natural Resource Department
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
This essay was written in 2008-2010 as part of the interactive DVD/website, Explore the River: Bull Trout, Tribal People, and the Jocko River (Pablo, Montana: Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, forthcoming 2011), an educational project of the Natural Resource Department, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, to be distributed by the University of Nebraska Press.
The author wishes to extend his thanks to the project director, Germaine White, and the author of the scientific segments and constructor/designer of the DVD, David Rockwell. Please
also see acknowledgments at the end of the essay. Any profits that may derive from future publication of this essay will be donated to the Confederated
Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
M̓a ɫu es šʔi ɫu cwičtn y̓e st̓úlix͏ʷ, q͏ʷamq͏ʷmt y̓e st̓úlix͏ʷ. X̣est y̓e st̓úlix͏ʷ.
In the beginning, when I saw this land, it was beautiful. This land was good.
Esyaʔ, esyaʔ u it cniɫc u es x͏ʷisti ɫu puti tas x͏ʷʔit ɫu suyapi.
Everything, all things were used from the land when there were not many white people.
K͏ʷem̓t esyaʔ ye qe sewɫk͏ʷ ye qe nsisy̓etk͏ʷ u x̣est es momoʔop. X̣est es en̓esi.
All our waters, our creeks were flowing along good. It was going good.
L šey̓ ye l sewɫk͏ʷ u ɫu x͏ʷʔit ɫu x͏ʷix͏ʷey̓uɫ — ɫu sw̓ew̓ɫ ɫu tʔe stem̓.
It is there in the water — that is where there were many animals — fish and other things.
K͏ʷem̓t šey̓ še nk̓͏ʷúlex͏ʷ qe sq͏ʷyúlex͏ʷ ɫiʔe l sewɫk͏ʷ….
And by that, we were wealthy from the water….
Mitch Smallsalmon, 1977
For thousands of years, the Salish and Pend d’Oreille people have inhabited a vast territory that includes the area now encompassed by western Montana. And for almost all of that immense span of time, they lived entirely as hunters, gatherers, and fishers. They practiced no agriculture at all — and yet for millennia, through all the historical change and dynamism of that vast period, it seems clear that these tribes generally sustained themselves well, and took good care of their homeland. How did they do this? What enabled their societies to live and thrive, and in the largest sense maintain a sustainable relationship with their homeland, for such a remarkably long period of time?